Now that the European season is almost over, it’s time to hand out my end of year awards (The Victors)
1. Stallion of the year: Galileo who else? It’s easy to take for granted his year on year domination, but it really is extraordinary. This year so far he has sired another Derby winner in Australia, classic winner Marvellous, Group 1 winners Tapestry and Adelaide. Amongst his older horses Noble Mission has earned the right to stop being referred to as simply Frankel’s brother. More significantly the pipeline looks incredibly strong with Group 1 winning two year olds in Gleaneagles, Together Forever and Found and an even more exciting prospect in John F Kennedy. He does have all the advantages of the best mares and large books but he keeps producing the goods in a way few stallions in history could match.
2. Flop of the Year: Fastnet Rock. Just to show that Coolmore don’t always get it right. Sensational in Australia, Coolmore reverse shuttled him and patronised him with some of their elite mares. He had a slow start with his European two year olds in 2013 but we waited and waited for them to burst onto the scene in 2014 but it never really happened. The Coolmore boys recognised the game was up and sold a job lot of 9 of his yearlings to the Australian OTI syndicate. He has fallen far short of expectations (I would have expected at least 2 Gr 1 winners from that book of mares) and no tears will be shed if he doesn’t return to Ireland.
3. Breakthrough sire of the year: Kodiac. When he retired to stud in 2007 Kodiac had a modest race record with no Stakes wins to his name and his best run being a fourth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. However he had plenty to recommend him on pedigree being a son of Danehill out of a classic winner in Rafha who was the dam of rising stallion Invincible Spirit. His initial fee was €5000 and that dropped in year 3 and year 4 to €4000. Plenty of winners started to follow and after a proliferation of two year old winners in 2013 his fee reached €10000 in 2014. This year, since the beginning of the season he has been an unstoppable force with his two year olds and more importantly some have demonstrated considerable quality notably. The highlight for Kodiac was the speed machine that is Tiggy Wiggy and for good measure Kodi Bear stepped up on his previous runs to come second in the Dewhurst. In addition the 3 year old Coulsty won a group 3 as did the 6 year old Jamesie. His recent sales results include a large number of six figure sales and he is set for a very significant and justified fee hike in 2015.
4. Second Crop Sire of the Year: Le Havre. Hard to call this award as it could have gone to Sea the Stars, Mastercraftsman or Le Harve. Sea the Stars had a huge amount to live up to being one of the outstanding horses of the era, being a half brother to Galileo and having covered an outstanding book of mares. He has not disappointed having sired a superstar filly in Taghrooda, and a scintillating winner of the German derby in Sea the Moon as part of a very impressive haul of 10 stakes winners. Mastercraftsman had a lesser book of mares than Sea the Stars ((althought not a bad book of mares given his initial fee was €20000) but surpassed expectations by delivering two classic winners in Kingston Hill and the Grey Gatsby. However my selection is Le Havre who despite having won a Prix du Jockey Club was retired at a fee of just €5000. He has repaid his supporters in spades with a dual classic winner in Avenir Certain, a Group 2 winner in Auvray and the high class Le Hoguette amongst 6 stakes winners. He has earned the right to much bigger and better books in 2015.
5. First season sire of the year: Lope de Vega. For most of the season I had the name Starspangledbanner pencilled in for this award. He looked like he had the makings of a fine stallion getting a pair of impressive Royal Ascot winners in The Wow Signal and Alexander Anthem from a depleted first crop (due to fertility issues). However although The Wow Signal added a Group 1, the lustre has slightly faded from this pair and no other stakes winners have emerged. In contrast the offspring of Lope De Vega have really come good as the season progressed and he can already boast of four Group winners headed by recent Dewhurst winner Belardo, backed up by Italian Group 2 winner Here Look and a pair of Group 3 winners in Burnt Sugar and Royal Razalma. In addition Endless Drama put up a most impressive performance when winning today at Naas as he towered over his rivals in every sense. Given that Lope de Vega was better at three when he emulated his own sire Shamardal by winning the French Guineas and Derby Ballylinch Stud must be hopeful that his momentum will continue. Lope de Vega retired at a fee of €15000 and stood for €12500 for the past two years but a big hike is to be expected.
6. Performance of the Year: Sole Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes. Sole Power is a standing dish in the top sprints and won the Nunthorpe back in 2010 (at which time I wrote about his pedigree (http://www.montjeu.com/archives/295). His winning performance in this year’s edition really had to be seen to be believed as he showed remarkable acceleration against high class sprinters. Enjoy it for yourself here